Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Lesser Devil 4

This post is a continuation of a series of posts.

Programmes, Schemes and Legislations

The UPA Government has launched several pro-people programmes such as the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme - intended to provide Rs. 60 per day for 100 days of employment a year to one member of an unemployed family; Bharat Nirman - the flagship programme of the Government, envisaging a four year bound time frame for implementing Rs 174000 crore worth of projects in rural India; the National Rural Health Mission - has been elemental in curbing infant mortality rates across the country and providing basic health facilities to most villages in 18 states of India; Aam Aadmi Bima Yojana - a social-security scheme for unorganized workers outside insurance coverage; Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan - was started by the NDA Government but complemented with the mid-day meal scheme and expanded by the present Government; and, Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission - launched to revamp and create physical infrastructure in urban India with a corpus annual fund of Rs 1000 crore.

Several legislations and amendments having far-reaching benefits have been initiated by the present Government. The Right to Information Act, for instance, gives people the power to demand records from Government offices and organizations. It is considered by many to be a milestone in the empowerment of civil society. Traditional Forest Dwellers' Bill was passed in 2006. This gives tribals deserving rights over forest land and thus, ensures sustainability of forests in the long run. Communal Violence Bill was presented and enacted to ensure prevention of communal violence and rehabilitation of victims of communal violence. Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act has helped provide civil remedies to women in abusive or violent relationships. The highly controversial Central Educational Institutions Bill, popularly known as the OBC Reservation Bill, was also tabled by the present Government. Although highly criticized by many, nobody argues against the benefits it provides to socially discrimated-upon people.

Clearly, the UPA Government has a lot to project as achievements. It beats me then, why are they on the defensive?!

Anyway, Foreign Affairs is next on my agenda.


References:
'Budget 2008-09: Reaffirming Rhetoric', March 2008, http://www.cbgaindia.org/budget_responses.php; and
'Union Budget 2007-08'.

1 comment:

ranjit said...

Well Buddy take my view on the Indian politics:
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Someone once told me “My experiences have increased the respect I have for politicians; they have also reinforced the belief that we cannot solve our country’s challenges without significant citizen participation, in ways that supplement and strengthen the system of government”

There are many educated Indians who wonder why this is necessary. I was once asked by a friend: “Shouldn’t the system work properly on its own, so that I can devote all my energies to myself: being an effective person, running my company efficiently and creatively?” She went on to say, “Each of us could do this, isn’t it? Focus on our own priorities: Life, Career/Profession, Skills, etc.” The question goes to the root of what we mean by democracy and society, and whether the “system” is something independent of citizens. In this increasingly complex world, we believe that we already have enough responsibilities to manage; that our contribution to society happens through the taxes we pay and the “honest citizen” lives we live.

The relationship between individuals in a society and our government is an unwritten social contract — we exchange some of our personal independence for a common good in which each of us benefit. The greater the social capital, the healthier that society is.
One aspect of an unwritten social contract is enforceability — a lot of people are “free riders”: not fulfilling their role, but not being noticed. A healthy society is not some magic carpet that allows us to fly off in the pursuit of our personal dreams, but rather a complex tapestry where each of us has a strand to weave. At some tipping point, the weight of the free riders overwhelms the contract and begins to tear the fabric. I believe that urban India faces this risk.





- Ranjit Vinu